The Citadel may not look glamorous on the schedule but it is the sign of the times. Arizona AD Greg Byrne has said the Wildcats will schedule more I-AA teams. The Cats are slated to play NAU every other season and it seems like they will fill in the cracks with other lower division opponents.
“I want us to continue to get confidence on the football field and get victories,” said Byrne.
While I do not like it when I-A teams schedule I-AA teams, it is the current trend and will not end anytime soon. The NCAA allows one I-AA win to count towards bowl eligibility and financially it makes the most sense. More and more non-BCS teams are demanding return games or greater paydays to bypass playing at home. That is not the case with I-AA teams. They need the huge paydays that come with being road fodder for BCS teams. Some one-game paychecks are big enough to fund a program for a year.
The Wildcats have had their fair share of success against lower division teams. Since 2002 Arizona is 6-0 against I-AA opponents, outscoring them 199-69. Five of those wins were against Northern Arizona and the sixth was an unimpressive 28-10 win over Stephen F. Austin the week after the Cats were dismantled at LSU.
More and more the Wildcats will probably schedule less tough games, since the bowl system rarely rewards tough scheduling. That being said, the Wildcats start a series with Oklahoma State next season, but counters that by scheduling a home and home with both UNLV and Nevada, as well as getting a 2012 home game against Toledo.
Arizona plays NAU next season and will almost assuredly play them every other year, but currently does not have anything planned beyond the 2011 opener.
The Wildcats also have a two-for-one set up with Texas San-Antonio, but that series does not start until 2013. The Roadrunners begin play next season as a I-AA team but will be a I-A program starting the first season they play the Wildcats.